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Pa. council hears tall building pitch in Chambersburg

March 15, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In two weeks, the Chambersburg Borough Council will consider approving a land development plan for what could one day be the tallest building in Chambersburg.

Developer Bernard L. Washabaugh II, the president of Second State Enterprises, Monday night asked the council to include the plan in the consent agenda for approval at its March 28, meeting. The building, which would be at the intersection of Lincoln Way West and Spring Street, could potentially have five stories of parking topped by seven stories of office and retail space.

The size of the building, however, would depend on several factors and a building to fill the space has yet to be designed, Washabaugh said.

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"The market will determine what will actually be built there," he said. Approval of the land development plan would allow the actual design of the building to move forward, he said.

The council in 2001 granted a variance for the property to the borough's 72-foot height limitation, according to Phil Wolgemuth, the borough's planning director. That variance, which would allow the building to reach a height of 1371/2 feet, is contingent on the design of the building being compatible with the downtown and with a facade to mask the parking deck on the Lincoln Way side of the building.

The land development plan presented by Washabaugh showed the proposed building occupying the entire footprint of the property, which is bounded on the west side by the Conococheague Creek and on the north by the planned Village on the Falling Spring project, an enhancement and expansion of the existing Chamber's Fort Park.

Wolgemuth noted that properties in the borough's Central Core area do not have setback requirements or parking requirements. Washabaugh said the configuration of the building ultimately depends on its design.

The number of stories for the parking deck and the habitable space above also has yet to be determined, Washabaugh said. A building occupying all of the lot space would be "a worst-case scenario," he said.

As part of the land development plan, Washabaugh also is asking the borough for an easement off Spring Street to allow vehicle access to the north end of the site. Washabaugh said the developers would landscape and maintain that area if the easement is granted.

"This, I think, is an engineering feat of no mean size," said resident Harry Haddon. He asked if the developers had taken into account whether the site along the creek could support a structure of that size and weight.

Haddon also said the site is in a flood plain and vehicle access is a problem.

Parking garages, which would make up the lower floors, are allowed in flood plains, Wolgemuth said.

"Initially, my company's goal was to contribute to downtown revitalization," said Washabaugh. He presented the council with a letter from Downtown Chambersburg Inc. endorsing the proposal.

"Right now, we have basically a hole in the ground," Council President William McLaughlin said of the empty lot.

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